My Homemade Deodorant Problems

deodorant problems

I’m constantly trying to reduce processed foods in my diet.  In addition to not putting junk in me, I also try to not put junk on me.  I have used your basic castile style soap for years.  We use no scent laundry detergent.  We got rid of any kind of anti-bacterial soap or dish washing liquid years ago.  My household is trying to cut down on junk.

In our Twitter feed, one of our followers is a natural deodorant manufacturer.  I was checking out their webpage and was interested in their take on a natural deodorant.  Basically it was coconut oil, corn starch and baking soda.  Seemed simple enough.  It included coconut oil.  I love coconut oil.  It’s lauric acid is antibacterial and antiviral.  I searched the internet for homemade deodorant recipes that included those ingredients.  I actually had some old Muddy h2o Pit Powder that was mostly corn starch and baking soda and some coconut oil with lemon eucalyptus essential oil that I was trying out as a natural mosquito repellent (don’t bother).  I decided well, these are basically the same as the ingredients in the recipes I was seeing online so I figured I would just mix the two together and see how well this stuff worked as a deoderant.

For the first couple of weeks I had no problems!  This stuff was awesome!  I did not smell even if I had sweated profusely throughout the day.  The mixture had kind of a paste like texture that was easy to apply and the coconut oil seemed to melt/absorb into my skin and leave no greasy residue whatsoever.  I felt as if I had discovered the all natural solution to stink.  I felt bulletproof and smelled great as well.  I was so excited about my deodorant.

My Homemade Deodorant Problems

A couple of weeks go by and everything seems well until I wake up one morning with a pain in my armpit.  I was getting what looked like a pimple on my right armpit.  No big deal, my partner suggested it was an ingrown hair.  It sure looked like it. Except it was really kind of sore and painful.  And red.  Angry red.  After a few days if went along its pimply course and I thought it was all over.  The pain subsided and I figured that was the end of that.

About a week later, I was waiting for the hard mass of the pimple to go away and I woke up to the pain in my armpit again.  Upon investigation I now had two bumps/lumps/pimples/whatever they were in my armpit.  At this point I began to wonder if I might be having a reaction to what fragrances might be in the Muddy h20 Pit Powder.  It surely couldn’t be the all natural coconut oil, baking soda or corn starch.

I stopped using the deodorant around this time and went back to my time tested Tom’s of Maine deodorant.   A few days later I had at least six bumps starting to sprout under my arm.  This was getting serious.  And painful.  These bumps were swelling up and were stretching my skin to the point that moving my arm was pretty irritating.  And pretty gross looking as well.  Just Google image search “bumps under arm” and you’ll get the point.  I was a little beside myself.  I didn’t want to go to the doctor unless I had to.  (I don’t have much faith in the medical system at this point unless I’m having an emergency or need an operation in which case I think western medicine does pretty good.)

My Homemade Deodorant Problems Solved?

I was pretty convinced that the deodorant I had made was the cause of all of this.  I started using this new awesome deodorant and got some painful bumps where I applied it.  Therefore, the paste was the cause of the bumps.  I remembered from the original manufacturer’s webpage a mention of detoxing.  Basically the idea was that some individuals had a physical reaction to natural deodorants because the natural deodorant was pulling all the poison that had accumulated in one’s body over the years to the surface and was being expelled.  Basically, it was my fault that I was having a reaction because my body was so unpure…..  Well, some searching led me to a post on lisaliseblog.com titled “Why Your DIY Baking Soda Deodorant is Causing a Skin Reaction”.

homemade deodorant problems

Huh.  Imagine that.   The post explains that baking soda has a ph of around 8.3 and most skin friendly stuff has a ph of 4.5 to 5.5.  So, it seems like I was creating a pretty bad ph imbalance for my armpits at the very least.  I had sprouted a whole family of bumps under my arm of all sizes.  The first thing I did was to keep a lemon with me and rub lemon juice on the area to try and get the ph back to where it should be.  I also hoped it would help a little if these things had any chance of getting infected.  In addition to the lemon juice I also applied coconut oil.  It helped soothe the pain and with it’s antibacterial and antiviral properties I figured it couldn’t hurt.

So….What’s The Homemade Solution?

Eventually things started getting back to normal to my relief.  The message was obvious to most except me: “just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s safe”.  As for a homemade deodorant that won’t cause you pain, there is a great looking recipe on LisaLise’s page I’ll be trying.  Go to http://www.lisaliseblog.com/2013/05/how-to-diy-deodorant-without-baking-soda.html to check it out.

 

Bacon Flavored Seaweed Snacks

I’d like to talk about seaweed and give you a bacon flavored seaweed snacks recipe that I love.  I’m very fond of those roasted seaweed snacks you find all over nowadays.  Annie Chun’s and Trader Joe’s are a few of the companies that come to mind who make these addictive treats. Nori, the seaweed that is wrapped around your sushi roll, is basically flavored and lightly oiled and then roasted.  Salty and crunchy, these are a great satisfying snack that has no carbohydrates, and has a pretty good nutrient profile.  Seaweed nutrition is impressive.  All types of seaweed whether it’s kelp or nori or kombu are high in fiber, low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin b12 and iodine.  Unfortunately, the added ingredients and the types of oils used when manufacturing them make most seaweed snacks less than ideal.  Google image searching “seaweed snack ingredients” will reveal some of these undesirable ingredients: maltodextrin and brown sugar are a few things I’d like to avoid.  I am trying to avoid added sugar wherever I can.  The choice of oils concerns me as well: sunflower, safflower and olive oils are omega 6 heavy and are not real stable oils.  The western diet already has too much inflammation causing omega 6 oils-one reason I try to limit added vegetable oils wherever I can. Vegetable oils tend to go rancid when heated as well.   “These roasted seaweed snacks have so much going for them besides these “junky” additives” I thought to myself.  “If only I could get them made with lard”.  “Yeah right” I told myself.  “Just go all the way and make them with bacon somehow.”

 

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What an interesting idea!  Well, I had some bacon fat in the fridge, and found a few recipes online and tried it out…

Most recipes are pretty straight forward-oil sheets of nori, season and either pan roast or roast in a low oven.  I followed the procedure detailed at maangchi.com.  For seasoning, I used a small amount of sesame oil.  I found this acceptable considering the majority of oil used in the recipe would be bacon fat. Man, I love the taste of sesame oil.

For 20 nori sheets I used a mixture of 2 tbs of bacon fat and just shy of a teaspoon of sesame oil mixed together.  Working on top of paper towels, I used a pastry brush to apply a thin layer of oil on the shiny side of the nori which was facing up:

 

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I sprinkled a small amount of sea salt and placed another sheet, smooth side up on top of the first sheet.  I continued this process until all the sheets were used up.

seaweedsnacks

At this point, I rolled all the sheets of seaweed into a roll and wrapped it in paper towel.  I let this set and rest to allow the nori to soak up the oil mixture as I heated up a cast iron skillet over medium heat.   I placed a sheet rough side down into the hot skillet and pressed it down with a spatula.

20160102_142144  The nori will shrink and curl as it gets hot, hence the spatula to flatten it out.  After about 20-25 seconds, I placed another sheet, rough side up on top of the sheet in the pan.  I then flipped the two sheets so the new piece was rough side down on the pan and roasted it for another 20 or so seconds while I repeated this process with the remaining sheets-each time making sure the rough side would be the side that touches the pan.

At this point your’re done.  Let them cool and cut into squares.  I went a little heavy on the oil when I prepped the sheets.  Because of this, they were a little greasy and I ended up blotting the sheets on paper towels-much like as you would bacon.  Place in an airtight container and store in the freezer for maximum crispness.

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These taste pretty amazing.  They have a strong blast of seaweed and bacon with a nice peppery finish.  You know they must be pretty good because I’m describing the taste as if I were talking about a fine wine.  And I don’t have to think about excess sugars or rancid oils as I pig out on them!

Other recipes call for roasting in the oven.  In the future I will try this method as well.  I believe the real trick however you make these is to keep the oil on the light side.  Next time I’ll be wiping the oil mix on with a paper towel and see how that goes.   The tip to store in the freezer from maangchi.com is spot on-these were still crispy a week later.

DIY roasted seaweed was pretty easy overall with pretty awesome results.  I was looking for an easy to make, great tasting snack that is pretty much guilt free.  I’ll be experimenting with the choice of oil and seasonings as well.  Coconut oil, clarified butter, onion powder, garlic powder, powdered mushrooms….who knows what else?  If you want to make a suggestion of your own, why not contact us on our Facebook page and let us know!

Jicama-The Prebiotic Superfood

Most people are aware of “superfoods”-vegetables or fruits that are so healthy consuming them might actually combat disease.  Spinach, blueberries and the current golden child, kale are some examples that we try to force into our diet.  I’ve recently included a new vegetable in my diet that can be considered a superfood.  Jicama.  You might have heard of it, even seen it in the grocery store but have you tried it?  It’s crisp and has the texture and crunch of a raw potato but a mild flavor reminiscent of apples.  Where most superfoods are touted as having extreme amounts of a certain vitamin or phytonutrient as in the case of anthocyanins, jicama has multiple benefits from vitamins to antioxidants and most importantly, it’s a kind of prebiotic.

What Is Jicama?

jicama facts

Jicama, known as Mexican yam bean, Mexican turnip, or just yam bean is the large tuberous root of the legume  Pachyrhizus erosus.  Only the roots are eaten as every other part of the plant includes rotenone, a toxin used in pesticides and insecticides.  After the dark fibrous outer skin is peeled away, the resulting crisp flesh is eaten raw or cooked.

Jicama is a low calorie food with only 38 calories in a 100 gram serving.  That 100 gram serving is also low on the glycemic index making it an ideal food choice for diabetics.  In terms of jicama nutrition, one serving of jicama also includes a whopping 33% of the suggested daily intake of vitamin c, and decent amounts of the minerals potassium, magnesium, and iron.

One of the most impressive benefits of jicama is its fiber content.  That 100 gram serving contains 19% of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber.  Benefits of fiber in the diet are pretty well known from helping to keep you “regular” to assisting in weight loss from the feeling of fullness after digestion.  Fiber can also help to control blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar.  Fiber may also aid in lowering cholesterol, reduce blood pressure and inflammation.(1)  Most amazing is the presence of oligofructose inulin-a type of insoluble fiber that is known as a prebiotic.

What Is A Prebiotic?

Prebiotic is a general term to refer to chemicals that induce the growth or activity of microorganisms (e.g., bacteria and fungi) that contribute to the well-being of their host”.(2)  In the case of insoluble fiber, it is fiber that does not get digested in the small intestine and makes its way to the large intestine where it is broken down by the bacteria that reside there.  There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that the bacteria in our body influence digestion, how fast we gain weight, and our moods.  There are about 10 trillion bacterial cells in the body outnumbering human cells 10 to 1.  Poor diet and the overuse of antibiotics (get rid of that antibacterial soap!) can contribute to this web of bacteria being out of balance, i.e. the ratio of the different species of bacteria is out of proportion.  In fact, research is showing that this “microbiome” being out of balance can cause and contribute to allergies, autoimmune diseases, obesity and diabetes.(3)  So what is inulin and how does it affect the microbiome?  Specifically, inulin feeds the Bifidobacteria species in your gut.  When that inulin is broken down by the bacteria they produce short chain fatty acids.  Acetic acid and propionic acid can be used as fuel for energy by the liver.  Butyric acid has major anti-inflammatory effects, is thought to fight cancer and helps maintain the gut/blood barrier to avoid leaky gut syndrome.(4)(5)  Sounds like inulin fiber is a good addition to the diet just to feed these guys.  Eating prebiotics also assist in the absorption of vitamins and minerals and aid immune function. By helping to keep healthy levels of good bacteria in the gut, inulin supports overall health.  Prebiotic foods include garlic and onions, chicory root, and our new favorite superfood jicama.

Jicama Recipes

Jicama is eaten raw or cooked.  It can be substituted for water chestnuts in cooked dishes since it retains its crunch after cooking.  I like eating it raw and chopped, some people like to add a squeeze of lemon or lime and a dash of chili powder.  You can find a lot of recipes for jicama coleslaw on the internet, it seems like one of the more popular uses for the vegetable.  It goes real well in salads with it’s refreshing texture and crunch.  Choose firm jicama, never waxed.  It should keep in the fridge for at least a month.

While not exactly a recipe, here’s my favorite jicama salad:

Jicama Mango Avocado Salad

  • Greens (I like arugula and cilantro)
  • One Avocado
  • One Mango
  • One Medium Jicama
  • Onion
  • Fixings for a vinaigrette….vinegar, oil, herbs, citrus juice etc…

I like a lot of contrasting flavors,  and this salad starts out with a bed of peppery arugula and cilantro.  I like to take some spanish onion, slice it thin on a mandoline and let it soak in some balsamic vinegar for at least ten minutes.  This will tame the heat of the onion while adding more flavor.  Cut the jicama in half and with a sharp small knife remove the dark brown fibrous skin as if you were peeling string cheese apart.  Julienne the jicama into matchsticks.  Peel and dice the avocado and mango.  Plate your salad with these ingredients, maybe add some toasted almond slivers on top.  For a dressing, I like to do some variant of a lime vinaigrette.  Start with 2 parts oil (olive, avocado) to 1 part lime juice.  Add a little salt, pepper and maybe some minced garlic.  Adjust to taste.  Sometimes I’ll add some chopped cilantro or a little honey.  Perhaps the zest of that lime I just juiced.  Whatever strikes your fancy. Mix and enjoy!

jicamasalad

While researching this post, I stumbled upon the phrase “jicama diabetes”.  No, there is no jicama diabetes.  Jicama is good for you if you have diabetes.  It’s also fun to say 5 times fast.  Go on…say it…jicama diabetes…

 

 

A Cool Squash Cutting Trick

With fall in full swing, I start thinking about all the tasty winter squash everywhere I look.  Farmer’s markets and farm stands full of delicious butternut, acorn, delicata, and sweetmeat squash to name a few varieties.  Winter squash are high in magnesium and potassium and beta carotene.  As I stated in a post on oyster nutrition, “Magnesium is needed for over 300 biochemical reactions in your body”.  Potassium will help your body control blood pressure.  Beta carotene is used by the body to manufacture vitamin A.  Most Americans get about half the RDA of vitamin A and squash is a great way to help supplement your diet with it’s basic building block, beta carotene.  Winter squash is also a great source of the soluble and insoluble fiber so necessary in optimal gut health.

Cutting a thick skinned winter squash can be quite frankly, a pain in the ass.  It can be extremely tough (like the skin!) to even get a knife through one without slipping and cutting yourself.  Today I have a quick and easy tip that will make it easy to cut a squash and get on with one of those squash recipies.  What you need is:

  • Squash of some sort
  • A large decent kitchen knife (don’t use your fancy knives for this hack)
  • A rubber mallet

cutting winter squashYup.  A rubber mallet.  That’s the secret ingredient.  You’ve seen them everywhere from Harbor Freight to auto parts stores bargain bins.  They’re pretty cheap.  You probably have one in the garage or basement…

Get your knife started in your squash:

cutting squasha

Hold the mallet in one hand and while holding the knife handle with your other hand, start tapping the knife through your squash:

cutting squashb

When you get the knife past halfway or so, you can usually just push the knife the rest of the cut:

cutting squashc

Squash cut…..you can use the same process to cut your squash into smaller chunks if needed.  Do not, I repeat do not use this technique on summer squash!

cutting winter squash

Delicious No Bake Lime Coconut Bars

coconut lime bar

Can you lose weight with coconut oil?  When eating healthy and following a low carb diet it’s very possible.  Today’s recipe is a tasty treat that is low in sugar and carbs, and includes everyone’s favorite healthy fat.

I don’t eat paleo.  I’m more paleo-ish.  I try to limit my intake of simple and complex carbohydrates.  I also try to limit eating gluten.  That said, I am more than happy to have a cinnamon roll from the local bakery now and then.  Especially if it’s my new favorite bakery that gets all their ingredients locally and uses local honey for sweetening.  But I also go days without eating wheat or rice.  I also go days without eating any sugar.  I feel its healthier and makes me feel better.

Coconut oil is hot nowadays for it’s almost magical medicinal qualities.  It contains antibacterial and antiviral lauric acid, helps you feel full when you eat it, and can even lower bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol.  It can even help you lose weight.

Coconut Oil For Fat Loss

Coconut oil contains medium chain tryglycerides.  These are medium chain fatty acids that when consumed, get processed immediately in the liver and are converted to energy.  These are fats that the body burns for fuel.  They don’t make more fat like one would assume.  They give you energy. Sugar will however,  make you fat.  Especially if you eat a lot of it.  The American diet contains tons of hidden sugars in our processed foods alone.  Eating fat makes you feel full and satisfied.  Eating sugars like fructose cause resistance to the hormone leptin.  This is the hormone that tells you are saiated and makes you feel full.  So, if you limit your intake of sugar and snack on these coconut bars instead when you get a sweet tooth, you will be burning fat for energy and on the way towards possibly losing some weight as well.

No Bake Lime Coconut Bars

  • 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 tbs virgin unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Truvia packets
  • zest and juice of one lime (just shy of 2 tbs of juice)

Mix the coconut, salt and lime zest well.  I like to heat the remaining ingredients slightly in the microwave to help the oil liquefy. Lets say 30 seconds in the microwave, stir to dissolve the Truvia and help melt the oil.  Then you combine the wet and dry ingredients and press everything into a suitable container.  Refrigerate one hour or 15 minutes in the freezer.  Cut into bars and enjoy.

Occasionally I like to omit the lime juice and zest and substitute cocoa powder to taste instead.  You could also substitute lemon zest and juice for the lime as well.